First candle

[Richard Armitage has stated repeatedly, the last time on December 23, 2009, that in lieu of a present at the holidays, he would prefer that you consider the needs of those less fortunate than him. All of the gifts I am giving him in this series of posts are notional. But in honor of the season, readers may wish to consider a donation in his honor to a group on his list of approved charities, which include the Salvation Army, an organization with outposts in many parts of the world outside of the UK.]

Happy Chanukkah, everyone! This is how the menorah looks on the first night. I stole this picture because this is exactly the style of menorah that I own; I got it eighteen years ago as my present on the first night from my then-boyfriend, who also taught me the prayers and rituals (for whatever reason, though I’d been a Jew for several years at that point, I hadn’t yet celebrated Chanukkah — it’s not a very important holiday in Judaism, and I went to a Presbyterian-affiliated college).

I’m not that great a singer, but I thought you might be amused by hearing me sing the big Chanukkah song, “Rock of Ages.” Below I sing the first verse in Hebrew and then in English. This was a kind of game I was playing awhile back when I was learning to use the iMovie software on my computer, so unfortunately you don’t get a neato graphic, but instead, the bank of bookshelves behind my desk in my office. Keep in mind in case you recognize titles that I am professionally employed to research and teach the history of Christianity. I keep the Judaica mostly at home. If you look closely you can see my copy of the Norton North & South and also Moving On.

German readers, you’ll recognize the tune of this ditty as very similar to “Nun freut Euch lieben Christen gmein.” That’s because this melody was a popular sixteenth-century folk tune. Jews used it for “Ma’oz tsur”; “Nun freut Euch liebe Christen gmein” (English: “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice”) is a contrafactum on the same melody — Luther, the author of that hymn, did it on purpose so people would learn his song faster. Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?

If you want to hear someone sing it who can really sing, here’s a nice link.

Anyway, eight days of this holiday, so I won’t shoot all my ammo tonight, but rather impart little pieces of information and rumination as I go on. Of course, in the United States, where it has to compete with Christmas, Chanukkah is the holiday for presents, sometimes one on every night of the holiday. What would I give Mr. Armitage on the first night? Well, I would have given him a coupon for the role of his choice in the coming year. However, I figure Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit is a pretty serious “role of his choice,” and he’ll be busy now for quite some time. So since he said recently that he’d never buy champagne for himself, I decided instead that for the first night I’d like to give him some champagne to celebrate getting through the very strenuous year (Clarissa, Spooks, Strike Back, Captain America, all the audiobooks, and all the voiceovers) and then getting cast in such a dream role.

Personally, I’ve always liked Piper-Heidsieck — it’s not one of the ones you always see in the stores in the U.S., like Veuve Cliquot, Moët et Chandon, or Taittinger, but it’s popular in Germany, and I have bought quite a few bottles of it over the years to celebrate important events, such as important academic milestones of friends. It’s reliable and it has a quality I really like in both sparkling and other wines, namely an extremely mineral undertone that makes it taste bone dry.

So that’s what I’m getting him. Here’s to you, Mr. Armitage. Congratulations on all your success this year: cheers!

On the first night of any Jewish holiday that’s not a fast we also say a prayer thanking G-d for granting us life, sustaining us, and allowing us to make it this far: Schehecheyanu. It seems especially appropriate to me this year, and given everything that’s happened in his professional life, perhaps it would seem that way to Mr. Armitage, too.

Happy Chanukkah, Armitage fans!

~ by Servetus on December 2, 2010.

32 Responses to “First candle”

  1. Happy Chanukkah Servetus! I think your singing voice sounds very nice! I have always been interested in Judaism and love to talk about religion, (that dreaded topic that is not to be discussed in polite society — along with politics!) Bring it on, I say. I enjoy hearing differing opinions and talking about mine helps me to better understand my own way of thinking.


  2. Yey! Servetus sings!! I really like that song. ( :

    I promise I am going to add a voice post at LJ soon with me singing as a thank you–I may just break out with “No Hotter Baddie” just for you and Iz and with apologies to Ethel Merman. And maybe–if I get really crazy–my Elvis imitation. “Hang up your stockings, turn out the lights, Santa Claus is comin’ down your chim-in-ey tonight!”

    I was hoping you would share some details of Chanukkah as I have always loved studying about different holiday and religious celebrations and customs from childhood. I look forward to this.
    And I think your choice of a gift is perfect.

    Re supporting charities in lieu of sending RA gifts (which I think is so sensible and sweet of him) I am going to buy some raffle tickets in support of our children’s advocacy center, which helps children and their families who have been involved in cases of physical and sexual abuse or who may have witnessed crimes. It’s a joint effort by the district attorney, law enforcement, trained psychologists and play therapists, social workers and other personnel and it really does make a positive difference in the lives of these damaged children. It gives them hope again.

    I adore the lady who runs it–what a heart for those children she has!–and if I win that log cabin playhouse, I just may turn it into my writing shack (this is one nice playhouse. It has electricity!)

    Instead of going out for dinner and drinks at work, we are going to donate the funds we would have spent on ourselves to a needy family in our area. We’ll bring finger foods and play Dirty Santa and have a grand time, anyway. We did this last year and all agreed we wanted to stick with the plan.

    And if we venture to Montgomery, I will seek out the Salvation Army kettles and slip some funds inside as I always do. ‘Tis the season.

    Happy Chanukkah, Servetus!


    • You did kind of dare me, Angie — I just don’t have the voice for show tunes.

      I think charitable donations to worthy causes are highly in order. I was so, so, so, so impressed when I first encountered Mr Armitage’s messages to fans that he said right off that he didn’t need gifts. Really impressed me about the man.

      I look forward to hearing you sing!!!


  3. Bravo!


  4. I love your singing servetus! I’m afraid I know nothing of Chanukkah but I hope you have a very happy one.


  5. Happy Chanukkah to you! I know nothing about this festivities and I hope this is the appropriate way to greet.
    I have only heard freemasonry refer to these festivities as the candle holder with more arms is used here, as do the freemasons in their light festivities held shortly before Christmas.
    As phylly3 mentioned, I love to hear of different religions and cultures. In my opinion it brings colour to life and makes it wonderful. So I am always disappointed when people refraint from talking about it or worse stating their one and only rightful opinion.
    Thank you for sharing your song with us and the idea for charity and your present are really lovely!


    • I spent Chanukkah in Germany many times (1995, -6, -7, -9, 2000, 2002-08) and it always seemed to me that it fit in with the light festivities of advent, etc., there, as it gets dark so quickly in the afternoon. Chanukkah and clementines, that’s my vote!


  6. Happy Chanukkah! I am actually attending a Chanukkah brunch this weekend that my cousin & her husband are hosting.
    Last year was the first year they had this brunch and it was a wonderful way for him to share his holiday traditions with the Catholic family he married into. It was so great to see the kids playing with the driedel. It was beautiful to see Chanukkah presents under the Christmas tree! I apologize to anyone who may find that last image offensive in anyway – but to me it was a wonderful visual of how much more alike we all are.
    Celebrate and pray for peace in our world!


    • I agree. Peace is something we all need. (The message of Chanukkah is sort of unpeaceful, but I’ll talk about that at some later point. Meanwhile, let peace abound!)

      And latkes.


  7. You sing really well, Servetus, and what a beautiful song! Happy Chanukkah! I too know little or nothing about Jewish holidays but always interesting to hear more and expand one’s horizons. It’s a big world out there and we’re all a part of it! 🙂


  8. Thank you for posting details of Chanukkah; please continue to post on the significance of Jewish holidays. For those of us growing up within various Protestant or Catholic environments, there is awareness of the roots of Judaeo-Christian moral/ethical framework. (Even if we are agnostic).


    • Thanks for the appreciation, fitzg — this is exactly the background against which I interpret myself, so am glad to share more of the Judeo side of Judeo-Christian.


  9. Happy Chanukkah! Sorry, finger slipped on send before finishing the comment….

    Thanks you for sharing your holidays with us.


  10. Happy Chanukkah!


  11. You sing really well, Servetus
    Happy Chanukkah!


  12. Happy Chanukkah!


  13. Many blessings to you and yours. Thank you for sharing with us your faith with us.


  14. Happy Chanukkah, Servetus. If your singing isn’t considered good, I’m not sure what adjective can be used to desribe mine as I can’t sing to save my life.


    • Thanks, but/and really y’all, I wasn’t fishing for compliments. I just enjoy it. I am always singing to my students, who find it amusing (still).

      I hate to say this, but almost everyone can sing or be taught to sing better. If it’s something you don’t miss, then I won’t encourage you, but really, six to ten singing lessons can make a huge difference in your achievement and enjoyment of it.


  15. As someone who works with young people, I appreciate how Richard has chosen charities whose aim is to make children’s lives better! They are our future!

    I give thanks for a community of Armitage admirers who open doors to new knowledge. I’ve learnt so much this year! I teach RE at school so I am always keen to learn more about our belief systems. One of the pupils is my class is Jewish and she’s celebrating Hannukah so it will be interesting yo follow your posts on this festival.


  16. […] Last year’s post, including a link to me singing Ma’oz Tsur. […]


  17. […] years ago, I gave Richard Armitage some champagne to celebrate being cast as Thorin. (And I sang “Ma&#821…) This year, I think, he really needs to drink a whole bottle of it! The miracle has been fulfilled, […]


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